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I had no idea how this story would go. And until recently, it wasn’t looking good. I was REALLY pissed off at British Airways, and here’s why. On a British Airways flight from London Heathrow (LHR) to Las Vegas (LAS), a flight attendant spilled wine all over my Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones and they stopped working. Sitting in business class, I did get a lot of attention from the flight crew after this happened. There was wine all over my seat, too. I was told there was not another empty seat on the plane, so the crew put layers of blankets on my seat to cover up the spill. But for the next 10 hours, my seat smelled like wine, and oddly enough, the flight attendants never wiped down the area of the console where the wine spilled.
The flight manager did admit responsibility, took down my information, told me he’d file a report, and gave me his “personal” email address and told me if I didn’t hear from British Airways, to contact him within a week. He sounded like he’d be helpful, though he was already anticipating that I would have trouble with customer relations. Here’s the email I got from British Airways after the flight manager filed the report. My favorite part is where they tell me “not to chase a response.” If their customer relations wasn’t so awful, this would actually be funny.
It had been over two weeks since that email came. I did email the flight manager, Chris Jupp. Here’s his email reply. Sounds like another plea from British Airways for patience. And frankly, I wasn’t “resting assured” at all.
Grant contacted the British Airways Twitter team. The first response was another one of those “be patient” pleas. In the next tweet Grant sent, he asked for a phone number to call or some specific information as to what the procedure for this kind of replacement claim would be. That tweet went unanswered for a few days and then finally the Twitter team gave me a phone number to call. Please note that in all their emails to me, they never provided a phone number to me. That’s why I specifically asked the Twitter team who to call.
Do I sound pissed off at this point? I was. It’s not a matter of going out and getting new headphones. I expected British Airways to pay for them. I’ve written many times about how I love my headphones and never ever travel without them. I called British Airways (1-800-452-1201) and though the hold music was lovely, after 45 minutes it does get to be a bit much. I was connected to the customer relations department. The first thing the rep said to me was, “You mean no one has called you or followed up on this yet”? What I wanted to say was, “And no one ever would have had I not called YOU,” but all I said was “nope.”
We went over the whole story, they had the report from Chris Jupp, the flight manager, and I told them I had spoken to Bose and Bose wouldn’t repair them. Once liquid has spilled on the headphones, they are unfixable. It was clear that British Airways was going to make me jump through hoops to get this resolved. There was a lot of putting me on hold, and yes, at times I lost my cool, because all they kept saying is, “we have our procedures.” They wanted to get the headphones repaired and I wanted brand new headphones.
Here’s what they said I had to do next. They went online and found a company in Utah that has you mail in headphones and then they’ll repair them, or not. That was it. The hoop I had to jump through. I won’t tell you the name of this company. No way was I mailing my headphones without speaking with someone at the company first. I called them, left multiple messages over the course of a week, and even though their answering machine says someone will get back to you within 24 hours, I’ve still not received a call back more than a week later.
I decided it was time to be more proactive and I took my headphones into a Bose store. I already knew, having spoken to a Bose rep on the phone, that they wouldn’t repair my headphones, but what I needed was for the manager to write a letter to that effect. And indeed that’s what happened. I uploaded the letter to British Airways and from that point, it took a few days and the full original price of my Bose headphones had been refunded to me.
Looking back, the lessons learned are that being proactive is required in these sorts of incidents. I’ve never had anything like this happen before. Sure, luggage gets broken, but both times that’s happened to me, both Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines were a breeze to work with. And although losing your cool as I did in my first conversation with British Airways never gets you the result you want, it did speak to my expectation that British Airways would replace, rather than repair, my headphones. You can see why I had no idea how this would all work out. I’m glad that what could have been a frustrated rant about British Airways turned into a success story. I’m curious if any readers have had issues with airlines damaging tech items. Did it turn out well for you? Let me know in the comments below.